Good varieties of sugarcane with sugar recovery potential exceeding 12 per cent are available in Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU).

Yet, at the field level, only 9.6 per cent of sugar recovery is achieved.

Reasons

Hence, scientists need to assess the reasons for this difference and suggest management measures to overcome this deficit, P. Murugesa Boopathi, Vice-Chancellor, TNAU, said here recently.

Speaking at a two-day annual research meet on sugarcane at the university, he said the sugar recovery of the State stood at a poor 9.6 per cent as compared to the 11.6 per cent of Maharashtra – which stood first in the country.

Area

“India is the second largest producer of sugarcane next to Brazil. Tamil Nadu has an area of 3.5 lakh hectares under sugarcane, which is 6.9 per cent of the country's total area.

With regard to productivity, Tamil Nadu stands first with 107 tonnes a hectare. Even Australia which has the world's highest productivity registers only 85 tonnes a hectare,” he said.

Precision farming

Farmers in Sankagiri in Salem had recorded 119 tonnes a hectare by adopting precision farming technologies, the Vice-Chancellor said.

Stating that the estimated demand for white sugar in the country by 2025 would be 30 million tonnes, Mr. Boopathi said to produce that much, sugarcane production had to be increased to 452 million tonnes with 11 per cent recovery.

Pointing out that the red rot disease was destroying sugarcane, he said the Tamil Nadu Government had allotted Rs. 240 lakh under the Cess Fund Scheme for evolving red rot resistant varieties.

The Vice-Chancellor also mentioned that the university had developed technologies such as pit method planting, drip and fertigation, and wider row spacing, which could increase yields up to 140 tonnes a hectare.

Task force

M. Paramathma, Director, Research, TNAU, said to increase sugar recovery in the State, a task force would be formed in the university for developing new varieties and management technologies.

N. Ajjan, Director, Centre for Agricultural and Rural Development Studies, TNAU, said though Tamil Nadu was a leading sugarcane producer, in recent years, a lot of variations were being observed in area, productivity, and production.

Promoting mechanisation as a major intervention to increase the Benefit Cost (BC) ratio would be a good solution to bring down the variations.

More In: Coimbatore